Pickwick Dam seismic study prompts early drawdown of lake

Sept. 10– The Tennessee Valley Authority is accelerating the annual drawdown of the Pickwick Landing Reservoir located in West Tennessee, Northeast Mississippi and Northwest Alabama as a result of a recent “health check” inspection of Pickwick Landing Dam.

TVA said this morning that initial results from testing and core drilling “suggest a remote chance that the earthen embankment south of the concrete portion of the dam could be damaged by a large earthquake.” 

Lower lake levels will allow TVA to conduct more detailed analysis and testing to determine what will be necessary to strengthen the south embankment against large seismic events. The Pickwick Landing area is only a few hundred miles from the New Madrid Seismic Zone along the Mississippi River.

“Public safety is our top priority,” said John McCormick, TVA vice president of River Operations. “Because large earthquakes can’t be predicted, we’re taking immediate action to enhance the continued safety of the public and our employees.”

Pickwick Landing Reservoir levels are expected to reach winter pool by mid-October, which is about six weeks earlier than normal. Property and marina owners with docks and boats will need to take necessary precautions for the early drawdown. Water levels downstream of Pickwick Landing Dam on the Kentucky Reservoir will not be affected.

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